Financial Advisor vs. Financial Planner: Key Differences


Whether you are looking for ways to manage your personal finances or that of your organization, finding the right financial services is crucial to meeting your goals. Two of the key titles to look for when sourcing out these services are ‘financial advisor’ and ‘financial planner.’ However, the difference between these roles can be difficult to understand due to their many similarities.

Both financial advisors and financial planners offer a breadth of knowledge in the realm of financial strategizing. Within these two categories, you will find many overlapping services that make it unclear which is the better choice. There are however, several key differences that should inform one’s use of these professional services.

Are you looking to hire a third party to provide financial expertise for personal or organizational purposes? Start by investigating the differences between a financial advisor vs. financial planner. Below, our team at Miser Wealth Partners has provided a few important differentiators between the two titles.


Many prospective clients are under the impression that financial advisors and financial planners offer the same qualifications to provide their services. In truth, the term, ‘financial planner’ is simply a subset of the broader category of financial advisory services. While a financial advisor working in the United States is required to have a specific license to offer their services, the title of ‘financial planner’ is not subject to the same rigorous requirements.

Financial advisors must have one or more designations such as a Certified Financial Planner or Chartered Financial Analyst certification. A financial planner may hold the same, or possibly more credentials, however it is the responsibility of the client to inquire about their educational background.


There are many overlapping services between financial advisors and financial planners. The key difference between these two roles is that financial advisors typically focus on short-term objectives while financial planners take a much broader approach. It is for this reason that financial advisors normally have more certifications, enabling them to handle more specialized services such as estate planning or high risk investment. These areas of specialization help individuals and enterprises achieve their most pressing financial goals. 

Conversely, financial planners consult with their clients to determine projected financial gains or losses, and create a strategy that helps them meet their long-term goals. This may entail retirement planning and tax advisory services among many others. With this in mind, financial advisors are better equipped to work on specific, short-term projects in which the service has a clear start and end date. Enlisting the help of a financial planner however, may be a better option if you are looking for a service that will ensure continued financial strategizing that supports the changing needs of you or your business over time.

Legal knowledge

Particularly in the case of corporations seeking financial services, it is important to ensure your service provider offers adequate legal knowledge to keep your organization in compliance with tax regulations, worker’s compensation laws, and other key components that affect the legitimacy of your business. As previously mentioned, both a financial advisor and financial planner may specialize in areas such as these, however due to the more stringent expectations of financial advisors, professionals in this role tend to offer more extensive legal knowledge. It is for this reason that financial advisors are normally entrusted with public-facing financial matters. In the United States, the Series 65 exam must be completed for a financial advisor to provide this type of service.

Still unclear about whether you should opt for the help of a financial advisor vs. financial planner? Get in touch with our team to find out which service is right for you.

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